LADY AT THE BAT: Why Are Only Black Players Wearing No. 42?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Why Are Only Black Players Wearing No. 42?

After Bud Selig gave players permission to wear number 42 this Sunday, I wondered who, besides Ken Griffy, Jr, would actually wear it. This week, as the names of players wearing 42 were announced, I was disappointed to hear the names of only black players.

Did these players request to wear number 42, or did their teams "assign" it to them because they are African-American? If it's the latter, it sends out the wrong message: Jackie Robinson Day is for black players only. Only black players should be involved in celebrating the legacy of the man who broke baseball's color barrier. This is just a small part of a larger belief in America that African-American History is just for African-Americans. I remember having a conversation with a white friend in college. She was looking at a TV schedule and noticed that a black history program would be on TV that evening. She pointed it out to me and said, "Here's a good program for you to watch, Bernadette." I knew she meant no insult by it, but I felt I had to point out, "It's a good program for anyone to watch."

My friend was not a terrible person for thinking what she thought. Neither are the MLB teams who chose only African-American players to wear 42 (if, in fact, that is how it went down). After all, every other human being does the same thing, whether black, white or any other color. Why do you think we even have the problem we have in MLB, the small percentage of African-Americans playing the game? I know it's a lot more complicated, but a huge part of it is the fact that a lot of black people think baseball is a white sport, for white people. All of us need to broaden our horizons and, somehow, develop more of an appreciation for and interest in cultures other than our own. How about we follow the lead of San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young, a white man from an affluent Dallas suburb, who wrote his senior thesis about the impact of Jackie Robinson. While most people wouldn't (and shouldn't have to) go that far, we could all do a much better job of going outside our environments and learning something about the worlds beyond our own.

The Lady

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